Long Beach Unified, the city’s largest employer, stopped short of requiring vaccinations Wednesday, but the superintendent strongly encouraged teachers and students to get the vaccine.
Last year, Benitez was passed over for the position, drawing criticism from prominent politicians like Mayor Robert Garcia to State Sen. Lena Gonzalez.
The undertaking, made possible by an unexpected budget surplus, will be the largest free student lunch program in the country.
“This week has shown that the masking guidance can shift quickly,” an LBUSD spokesman said.
“The reality is that our summer program this year, the number of students enrolled is larger than many school districts in the state of California.”
Amid the pandemic, the LBUSD feared a dire financial picture, but increased state funding and $150 million in one-time COVID relief money reversed that.
LBUSD’s classified staff—such as maintenance workers, instructional aides and nutrition workers—say they deserve larger raises after putting themselves in harm’s way.
“I got that closure that I needed to say that this was my career and I can feel good about what I did,” said Nancy Hoyt, who is retiring from Carver Elementary.
A survey showed just 3.1% of LBUSD teachers have “very high” morale going into the summer, with 59% marking “low” or “very low.”
The superintendent recently said the LBUSD, “will be pushing to have all students return to in-person instruction for full-day, full-program experiences.” But some uncertainty remains.